We've been trying to get students to connect in a variety of ways for the past two months, and this seems to be something that really works to develop community between teenagers across school divides. Students each can pick any of the books based on their own taste in literature, and I think that is the key to the success of this activity.
Students aren't connecting because they were thrown into random groups. Instead, their interests created the groups. They're not playing games in an effort to get them to talk to each other; they're talking about topics that authentically interest them, and they're creating new topics of their own for others to discuss. It takes little effort to get students talking about a topic they all find intriguing.
But in schools, in particular, when they might just focus on one book each year, the end result can be frustrating and even devastating when some students feel ostracized for not joining or not liking the book that they think everyone else in the school loves.
It's interesting that in our age of celebrating diversity, we still hope or expect everyone to be the same. It's one thing to hope that everyone can enjoy reading; it's quite another to expect them to enjoy reading the same kind of book. That's just silly.